The Postpartum Return to Running
I like to think of myself as a “relate-able runner”. You know, someone who has done a couple of half-marathons but it inspires you in a way that’s like “If she can do it, I can do it too!”
After I had Sophia, I started training for a half-marathon as a means to get back into shape. It actually got me into the best shape of my life, and because I had never run before, I had no idea what running “postpartum” would be like. Honestly. Before babies, I had never run more than a mile. The 13.1 was easy though. (I mean, I went slow, and it took about 18 weeks of training. But I ran the whole way and didn’t die.)
This time around, I tried running into my pregnancy, and it was super hard on my body. There are awesome women out there who run their whole pregnancy — but that was not me.
I missed running the entire time I was pregnant, and was so excited for my 6 week checkup, so I could run again and get back into shape. Running right after baby though, has been a whole new ballgame. I’m slow, heavier and tired. And I wasn’t expecting all of the things that would be different when I started running again.
I’m Not As Fast As I Was
Hello, Captain Obvious! I am about 15 pounds heavier than when I ran my last race still, and haven’t been running for eight months. I am slow. And it is frustrating. While everyone else was out kicking butt running, I was at home on the couch with my second bowl of cereal for the night.
But now, when I’m trying to get back into the best shape of my life, it is frustrating to have to work back up to that. I am one that really enjoys instant gratification, so “trusting the process” and giving my body time to heal has been hard.
Luckily, I have a husband who reminds me that it’s okay to be slow, as long as you’re moving. I also have some great friends who double as running buddies who will gladly run slow with me.
I feel like when you have a newborn, your brain does a really good job of forgetting all of the hard things that come along with it. The hard labor, the poop all over your white comforter, waking up at 4 am to nurse. Good thing too, because we’d definitely be a one kid family if I didn’t forget it each time.
Waking up at 5 a.m. is actually easier than running at night for me, because I am up anyways feeding the baby around 4:30. I usually cruise BuzzFeed (guilty pleasure!) or decide to actually do something with the time I’m awake, and go run or to the gym. I turn into monster-mom around 4 p.m. though, and usually end up dozing off while my kids watch Daniel Tiger for the 3rd time that day.
That’s okay though, because this is just a season, and my kids love that show. Taking care of myself, plus little versions of myself is exhausting.
A Women’s Health PT Is Worth It
This time around, I’m taking my husband’s advice and getting a women’s health physical therapist involved in my exercise. There is a TMI Moment coming up, so skip over this part if that’s not your thing.
My first half-marathon, my goal was to run the whole time. My training went well, and I ran the whole race. *SCORE!* As soon as I crossed the finish line at Hayward Field, in front of thousands of spectators (none of which were watching me, I’m sure), I stopped running and immediately emptied my bladder. I peed my pants. I was mortified. Luckily I was wearing black pants, but still. Gross.
This is a common thing that a lot of moms struggle with when returning to exercise, but it isn’t normal. It should not be happening. I refuse to pee my pants in public this time around, so I’m going to see a physical therapist. I’m hoping I will gather some information to share here that will help any mom struggling with this.
I’ve learned though that sometimes as a mom, you end up dealing with bodily fluids (yours or not) and it’s part of the job. I just like to keep it to a minimum.
I’m Still a B-A.
This is where I get a little “over-confident” as one would say. I think it’s okay though because women aren’t confident enough most of the time. Especially moms, and especially me.
Yeah I’m tired, slow, and have a super weird body right now, but I’m raising three tiny humans 12+ hours a day, and still finding time to get out and move my body. It’s one of the only times I get ME time, and it’s keeping my body healthy at the same time.
Running gives me goals to set, goals to reach, and reminds me that I’m a human outside of my husband and kids. My 10 minute mile may not seem like much to the next awesome running mom, but it’s a reminder to me that I can do hard things.
I hated running, and I’ll go back to what I said earlier that if I can do it, chances are, you can too. If you can’t though, I encourage you to find something you suck at, find something hard, and do it. You’ll feel like such a bad-a**.
Even if you pee your pants.